Zindzi Mandela, daughter of former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Zindzi Mandela, daughter of former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

South African political figures who have succumbed to Covid-19 in 2020

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Dec 29, 2020

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Cape Town - ANC MP Nomvuzo Francisca Shabalala, who died due to a Covid-19-related illness on Saturday, was the latest in a line of politicians who have succumbed to the virus this year.

There have been 11 political figures who publicly have been revealed to have died of Covid-19.

The majority of the political victims of Covid-19 died in July during the peak of the first wave of the virus. But Shabalala is among a couple of others, including former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani, who died on November 11, and United Democratic Movement (UDM) deputy national chairperson Mncedisi Filtane, who died on November 22, who have been casualties of the second wave.

According to the Covid-19 South Africa Dashboard, as of December 28 there had been 27 000 deaths from Covid-19 from over a million cases and over 800 000 recoveries.

The first prominent political personality to die from a Covid-19 related illness was North West’s Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs MEC Gordon Kegakilwe, on July 6.

In the Western Cape, Langeberg mayor Henry Jansen died on July 7.

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell’s spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, said: “Councillor Jansen’s death comes as a shock, despite the very real danger of the times we are in.”

The following day, July 8, KwaZulu-Natal's legislature announced the death in hospital, allegedly due to Covid-19 complications, of Ricardo Mthembu, an MPL and former mayor of KwaDukuza.

He was also a member of the ANC provincial executive committee, and served as chairman of the cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) portfolio committee.

On July 12, it was announced that Buffalo City’s council speaker Alfred Mtsi had died due to Covid-19 complications less than a week after being admitted to hospital.

On July 13, the Mandela family announced South Africa's ambassador to Denmark and daughter of former president Nelson Mandela, Zindzi Mandela, had died in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the family for revealing she had the virus and said: “The gesture will encourage acceptance of those infected.”

ANC MP Martha Mmola, who served as a permanent delegate to the National Council of Provinces representing Mpumalanga, died due to Covid-19 on July 18. She had previously served as a member of the portfolio committee on police and standing committee defence.

Two weeks later on July 31, ANC MP Zamuxolo Joseph Peter, a member of parliament's portfolio committee on tourism, succumbed to the virus. The politician, who was described by his fellow MPs as being driven by the objectives of non-racialism and a non-sexist and united South Africa, died after a short illness.

Northern Cape Education MEC McCollen Ntsikelelo Jack died on August 12 after being hospitalised for Covid-19. He was accorded a provincial funeral, which was limited to fewer than 50 people due to Covid-19 regulations.

Meanwhile, other politicians have recovered. Among those are Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and ANC Western Cape spokesperson on social development, Gladys Bakubaku-Vos.

Cape Argus

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